Posted at: 09/27/2012 9:25 PM
Updated at: 09/27/2012 10:21 PM
By: Dietrich Nissen
MN Zoo Cheers Up Ronald McDonald Families
(ABC 6 News) -- The Rochester Ronald McDonald house is known for taking care of families while a child gets treatment. The last few weeks have been tough for Tammy Preston and her daughter, Kaylee.
"My son, Clay, has been ill for a long while," says Preston. While Clay receives care for a spine disorder, the two pass time drawing and talking.
"How does this gray look?" asks Kaylee. What the family thought would be a day check-up turned into three long weeks of doctor visits, and staying at the Ronald McDonald house.
"It was a big adjustment," says Preston. There wasn't much to be happy about until the Minnesota Zoo paid a visit.
"The zoo's incredible," says Preston.
"It's one of our favorite programs to do. We actually get to bring a little bit of joy to these kids who are getting poked with needles or all that other stuff," says Zoo naturalist, Donnie Crook. Aside from this chinchilla, Donnie brought a scorpion, millipede, an owl, fox, and a snake.
"This is something that they value very much and any opportunity we can do to bring a smile to their face for a little bit," says the house’s community development director, Maggie Shoepski.
"I think they're just able to forget any other stressors that they have, parents too," says Preston. "Animal therapy would I think would be a good thing."
And for Kaylee, it's a fleeting moment to take her mind off her sick brother and being far from home.
"[The chinchilla] reminds me of my hamster," says Preston. This was the first time the Zoo has stopped at Rochester's Ronald McDonald house. Both parties hope it's not the last.